The Cabrach, a large area of rolling moorland in Aberdeenshire and Moray, has been described as ‘the biggest war memorial in Europe’. The majority of able men from the parish left to fight in 1918 and most never returned. Their families were unable to sustain themselves and forced to move elsewhere in search of new homes and livelihoods. Even after 100 years the Cabrach has not recovered – the vast majority of buildings are abandoned, and even structures built more recently are often in a poor state of repair.
Inside one of about 40 storage tanks in a derelict MOD oil refinery in the Highlands. Whilst some people are calling for the site to be preserved as a historic monument, others consider it to be a major eyesore in a town where luxury cruise liners berth on visits to the Highlands.
A derelict guesthouse/hostel – so recently abandoned that TripAdvisor reviews still exist documenting its decline.
Hoarding Disorder is a mental illness clearly suffered by the last occupants of some abandoned homes in Scotland. A psychiatric disorder not uncommon amongst people living solitary lives in remote areas, it is characterised by the excessive hoarding of items within a sufferer’s home. This abandoned church was last lived in by an individual with a severe case. Thousands of toys, books, ornaments and other items litter the floor and shelves, with only narrow paths cutting through the quantities of clutter.
The majority of Scotland’s old psychiatric hospitals and all of its Victorian asylums have closed in the last few decades – the result of radical changes in the treatment and perception of the mentally ill. The number of inpatient beds is drastically lower than it once was, with home and community treatment now the focus.
Roofless and ruined old houses are seen in their thousands on the west coast of Scotland. Varying in age from those abandoned during the Highland clearances to those left behind during the huge changes and turmoil of the 20th century, they are constant reminders of some of the darker moments of Scottish social history. Others have simply never been restored after an occupant’s death, or fire or weather damage.
Abandoned houses on the Outer Hebrides can be amongst the best preserved found anywhere in Scotland. This cottage sits in plain view of a road, and whilst it would almost certainly have been vandalised in more populated areas of the country, the only visible damage is from fire, damp and the passage of time.
Dozens of mansions and stately homes lie derelict in Scotland, largely as a result of huge social and economic change during the first half of the 20th Century. The reasons are complex, but many became too expensive to maintain as the political power and financial dominance of the big landowners declined. This mansion in Ayrshire had its roof removed in the 1960’s to avoid paying local taxation.
The staff room in a school which has been abandoned since 2007. At the turn of the millennium approximately 20% of Scottish primary schools had rolls of fewer than 50 pupils, with some attended by fewer than 5. A significant number of these schools have closed in recent years to make savings and changes in the education system.
The house of 19th century industrialist Erskine Beverage – on the island of Vallay in the Outer Hebrides. Built at a huge cost and only possible due to the construction of an ambitious 1.5 mile long water pipe, the house is a symbol of social disparity – a grand and opulent building in an area where the local population was living a very basic, difficult existence. The house deteriorated as profits from the family’s business fell and Erskine’s son George declined into alcoholism and solitude. It has been empty since 1944, when George died trying to cross the island’s tidal causeway.
Old buses are lived in as permanently fixed homes in some parts of the Hebrides. This vehicle is now abandoned but it had been fitted with curtains, bedding and even a miniature ‘kitchen’ attached to its outside.
Psychiatric hospitals and Victorian asylums make up some of Scotland’s largest abandoned sites. This hospital comprises of dozens of buildings and several miles of road, and the grounds are used regularly by dogwalkers and joggers.
The majority of the buildings in the village of Inverkeithny in Aberdeenshire are abandoned. These include a once opulent mansion, Haddo House, which is in a gradual state of collapse.
The interior of an abandoned Victorian school building in Moray. Many Victorian school buildings have now been converted for other uses, but some lie empty or are simply used as storage space for nearby homes and farms.
One of many old ruins on the Black Isle in Ross-shire.
‘Stalactites’ of bird droppings in a church abandoned since the 1950’s.
Vegetation starting to take over a kitchen in derelict house in Moray.
Church attendance in Scotland has fallen by more than half since the 1980’s, with Christianity declining more rapidly in Scotland than in other parts of the UK. Numerous churches have fallen into disuse in recent decades, and whilst some have been converted into housing, shops or galleries, the cost of maintaining church buildings has led to many of them becoming derelict.
The (now destroyed) Glen O’Dee Hospital in Banchory. A unique building in Scotland, it was used as a sanitorium, a luxury hotel and residential home. It’s timber construction made it difficult to maintain and It was closed by the NHS in the 1990’s. It was burnt down in 2016 after a fire was deliberately started inside the building.
There are countless abandoned cottages spread throughout Scotland. Whilst the majority are largely stripped of the belongings of the last inhabitants, some remain in remarkably good condition. This house was lived in until around 2005 and still contains hundreds of personal items.
A large church in southern Scotland being slowly taken over by the surrounding woodland.
An old van in the grounds of a derelict hotel in Dumfries and Galloway.
Fire damage is one of the most common causes of abandonment. This big house was gutted by a fire when the owner was absent and is now becoming engulfed by vegetation.
Scotland has a number of small islands which have been abandoned by all their former residents. In most cases, economic problems, isolation and the harshness of the climate led to a gradual de-population of these islands. Vallay once held a population of around 60 people but has been abandoned for decades, and is now used largely for grazing animals.
Abandoned cars are a common sight throughout the Hebrides. Run-down or old vehicles are often never removed from remoter areas, and it is not unusual for houses to be surrounded by deteriorating cars.